Disasters and climate change can push people further into poverty, as the Shock Waves report makes the clear. To achieve its mission of eradicating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, the World Bank, together with GFDRR, must place effective disaster risk management (DRM) at the core of the development agenda. To be effective, DRM must be informed by strong analytics, relying on state-of-the-art methodologies and using the exponentially growing available data in order to understand what works and what does not and to prioritize the most impactful public and private interventions.
GFDRR’s analytics thematic area, launched six years ago, has grown over the years with landmark contributions to the scientific literature and public debates, helping to place DRM at the center of the development agenda. In FY22, building on its strong foundations, GFDRR continued to produce operationally relevant and state-of-the-art analytics to help task teams and decision-makers mainstream DRM into operations and public interventions and push the knowledge boundary on the economics of resilience for impact in the real world.
Resilient infrastructure: Building on the success of the Lifelines report, GFDRR strengthened and tailored its analytical toolbox on the thematic area of resilient infrastructure. Using novel methodologies, such as surveying transit systems in both “dry” and “flooded” conditions, GFDRR’s analytics team investigated the impacts of public transport disruptions from floods in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kigali, Rwanda, quantifying how transit system operations differ during heavy rains and focusing on the travel delays and associated costs, as well as identifying the most critical links in the network that should be prioritized for climate-proofing investments. The analytics team also produced the first global study that evaluates the exposure and loss of functionality of transportation networks in approximately 2,500 urban areas around the world. It found that close to 15 percent of all urban road networks are directly exposed to flooding in 1-in-100-years flood scenarios, and that the impacts on connectivity can be disproportionate, with close to 45 percent of trips becoming impossible.
Resilient health systems: The publication of the Frontline report in FY21, sponsored by the Japan–World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in Developing Countries, outlined the priorities for strengthening the resilience of health systems to disasters and climate change. Following this report, in FY22 GFDRR established a thematic area that focuses on building resiliency in health systems and is offering operational analytics services to task teams in various countries, including in Belize, Colombia, Morocco, Peru, and Tajikistan, and others.
Quantifying exposure to hazards: Leveraging progress in satellite and big data and using innovative methods, GFDRR’s analytics team also made several noteworthy contributions to the systematic quantification of exposure to hazards at a large scale and at high spatial resolution. Flood exposure and poverty in 188 countries presents global estimates of the number of people exposed to high flood risks in conjunction with poverty. It finds that 1.81 billion people (23 percent of the world’s population) are directly exposed to some level of flooding in the 1-in-100-year floods and that, out of the 170 million facing high flood risk (greater than 0.15-meter rise in water levels) and extreme poverty (living on under $1.90 per day), 44 percent are in Sub-Saharan Africa. A related study, Rapid Urban Growth in Flood Zones, explores the joint trends of built-up growth and flooding exposure at a global scale, finding that risky settlement growth is outpacing safe growth by 43 percent. Where Are All the Jobs? fills a crucial knowledge gap by developing a scalable and quick-to-deploy methodology to predict the spatial distribution of employment in urban areas. This opens up the possibility of DRM studies focused on the exposure of jobs to various hazards, among other topics.
Documenting the dividends of resilience interventions: Through several studies, the GFDRR’s analytics team h as furthered the understanding of the dividends of DRM and resilience interventions. A study set in the Buenos Aires urban area, but with conclusions applicable widely, shows that the land value appreciation triggered by flooding mitigation interventions alone would surpass their investment costs, opening up the possibility of ex-post cost recoupment. Another study, using household surveys, shows that in four major Sub-Saharan Africa cities, willingness to pay for risk reduction mainly translates into higher housing rents and land values, despite measurement difficulties.
The socioeconomic dimensions of resilience: Building on the Unbreakable report and framework, GFDRR’s analytics team continued to expand and deepen its work on the socioeconomic dimensions of resilience. At its core, this work program recognizes that household and individual characteristics and situations determine their ability to cope with and recover from disasters; it explores interventions that can improve socioeconomic resilience rather than more narrowly reduce disaster damages. In FY22, the team made contributions in several ways: (1) by making the methodology and findings from the initial study more accessible and visible with the launch of the Unbreakable website; (2) by taking stock of the existing evidence on the gender dimensions of resilience, as one determinant of the ability to cope with disasters, through the publication of a dedicated report; (3) by adapting the Unbreakable framework to explore a wider ranges of resilience issues, such as the welfare impacts of the COVID-19-related labor
shocks in developing countries; and (4) by producing tailored analytics to local contexts, such as was done in the Overlooked report, which was launched in FY22 and sparked consultations with World Bank country office economists and sectoral teams throughout the Europe and Central Asia region.
Lessons Learned, Challenges, and Way Forward
The sustained demand for support from operational teams and those working on Country Climate and Development Reports is a strong indicator both of the relevance of the analytical work developed in the past few years and of its quality. Two areas for potential deeper exploration are (1) further integration of disaster risk analysis with economics of resilience models and (2) better use of big data, including geospatial data, for better-informed and richer economic models. The analytics team is currently grappling with the challenge of finding a balance between meeting the present sustained operational demand for analytics, which requires investing to some extent in
product standardization, and pushing the innovation boundary of analytics to prepare for the operational demand of tomorrow.